Friday, 15 April 2011

Kinabatangan - A Land I WOULD Place In My Heart

Heart? Not in the mind? <<- This stoopid bitch doesn't even know what she is saying.

Well hello dear readers..

Yes as I stated above. IN MY HEART!! Why? Because I really love the place. I can't just put it in my mind (cause it sounds like no emotion at all).

Back to the topic, Kinabatangan located somewhere in Sabah. Popular for its Kinabatangan River. The second longest river in Malaysia.

as quote from Wikipedia:
Kinabatangan is known for its remarkable wildlife and fascinating habitats such as limestone caves at Gomantong hill, dryland dipterocarp forests, riverine forest, freshwater swamp forest, oxbow lakes and salty mangrove swamps near the coast.

I was there about 2007 or 2008? I don't really remember. But I remember it was dry season. The water level of the river was not as high as usual. I went there for a school project with a group of three buses of students. Once we were there, we were given some instruction and yada-yada-yada (it's a part of the procedures whenever we went out visiting places). After that, we were separated to meet our temporary foster parents (the owner of the house we were going to stay with). I was kind of lucky to be grouped with my close friends at the time. And the house we went to was actually said to be the biggest house there is in the area. It was a plywood house but it was kind of luxurious considering we were in a village where less fortunate (in terms of material and money) people is everywhere. By the way, the name of the village is Kampung Batu Tulug.

1. Kampung Batu Tulug
Consist of Orang Sungai (Sungai People), one of the native people of Sabah. The word Tulug was derived from their language means White. Kampung and batu, are some common word for Bahasa Malaysia (Malaysian Language) for village and stone. Thus, the name Kampung Batu Tulug can be direct translated to White Stone Village. The name came from a hill in the middle of the village which the villagers simply call Gua Batu Tulug, a limestone hill. It was turned into a museum when the government acknowledge it when people found there where historical artifact for the people around Kinabatangan. There were coffins in the caves believed to be the ancestors of the Batu Tulug villagers. The museum management made a resting place on top of the hill. There I found the most magnificent view of whole Kampung Batu Tulug. It was beautiful!! I took pictures of the whole scenery (but too bad my hard disk where I put all the picture of my Kinabatangan experience was infected with virus. At least that is what my friend said) I see FULL OF GREENERY LUSH! Begin to feel a bit sentimental wishing the place will stay just the way it is. It's should not be touched by development. But I saw someone did made upload some pix in their blog here.

2. River cruise
a. We went to the river cruise about 6 (or may be before) in the morning when the there is just a little sun light. We saw a LOT of long-tailed macaque groups (said to be the cheekiest and naughtiest primates in Kampung Batu Tulug cause they steals things and foods from residents)

b. There also some sight of rare birds. One of them are a huge hornbill. Our ranger said that it was purple-ly/ dark blue feathered hornbill. But by the distance where we were, we just see it as a normal black hornbill (we didn't bring any binoculars cause we didn't expect to see anything fascinating. and we were lack of experience what to bring)

c. Proboscis Monkey!! We seen about 2 or 3 group of this gentle primates. The ranger said it was a surprise and lucky that we were able to get multiple sighting of the primates because it was hard to see them this many usually. We were told that, even though it was said to be gentle, the primate can be aggressive sometimes if their "territory" was violated especially toward the same kind of primates they are. We were also taught to identify that the primates is around by listening to the sound the primates made at the time.

d. We were told to NEVER uttered the word BUAYA (crocodile) anywhere near the river. Sungai Native (actually every part of Sabah) believed the reptile will make a scene whenever people "call" them. Instead, we should call them Odu (A Sungai word which also used by most native language in Sabah for calling old people) as they believe the fresh water crocs were their ancestors who were allegedly the Batu Tulug Warriors who protects the Kinabatangan River.

3. Homestay
a. I live with my parents (and still live with them) and my parents house has 3 bedrooms. But the homestay where I stayed in Kampung Batu Tulug have more than 3 bedrooms. It was seriously big! Their windows has no glass or blinders or any cover. they were just big window pane. Every bed were covered with mosquito nets and the beds are as comfortable as my bed (or may be I was too tired to complaint?)

b. Our food was so nice. Our foster parents constantly ask what do we want to eat for our brakfast/lunch/dinner/supper.. And we constantly reply, "we eat anything you'll eat mak, bapak! It's better if it was the native food!" But obviously, they feel oblige to prepare extremely good food for us cause we have paid them and they just keep prepare luxurious food to us like huge tiger prawns! They say they got the prawn from the river? How convenience! The only food that they prepared for us that I think unusual for me was the baby fishes that was fried. The fish's bone was so soft, I can eat it! Fresh water fish tasted better when I was there!!

c. Shower... was awkward. There are walls to cover from the dining room and kitchen but facing outside? NO WALL at all. We don't bring sarong as we didn't expect it to be like.. what we were facing. A complete cultural experience!! I went to shower together with a friend cause I was thinking even if I was caught naked, at least there would a friend to share the same embarrassment. hahahaha!!! We shower with our clothes on at first. But then when we feel uncomfortable, we just go ALMOST naked, leaving bra and panty on (I was very skinny back then *sigh*). The second night, my friends and I was bathing at the waterfall just 20 or 30 steps away from our homestay (another reason why I feel the homestay we were put was luxurious!!)

d. We became friendly with the niece of our foster parents. knowing her and her education background made me feel grateful that I have the chance to go to school. She is younger than me and was very unfortunate to leave school after finish primary because the distance of her house to the high school is so far away. She said that it was impossible to go to school at the time because there are no proper road and proper functional transportation. But she was able to enter the army force and she finally have something to enjoy to.

4. Ranger
a. We were taught what is the meaning of dipterocarp forests by our ranger, a beautiful Sungai Native. We were also told some legends about the Kinabatangan River and the Sungai Native's beliefs. Some historical fact.

b. She (yes a SHE!) also teach us to identify the PYGMY ELEPHANT foot print and poo looks like. Yes just poo! Our ranger said that we were unfortunate to came when the PYGMY ELEPHANT had just finish giving their round of visiting season in Kampung Batu Tulug. It was said the PYGMY ELEPHANT were travelling around Borneo within a year. As cute as they are, they are not the type of animal one such come across with. PYGMY ELEPHANTs' habitat and travelling route was disrupted by the Sabah State's roads development, forestry activities. They were also hunted by both illegal and registered hunters. Thus, PYGMY ELEPHANT will become extremely aggressive while facing human. PYGMY ELEPHANT are facing extinction and I condemned anyone who hunt this animal for money/trophy/leisure/etc..

5. Planting trees
We did made our part by helping to plant trees at the replanting program area (I'm not sure it's a programme or campaign by idk who?). It was so exhausting, I was almost dehydrated. I did bring water but it seems like no matter how many bottles I have, it could not clench my thirst. (luckily, a male classmate did bring 100plus)

Who should go there?
Avid bird watchers, people that LOVE wildlife, people who love natural environment, people who love jungle trekking, people who comes from developed country and wants to experience what living in the village feels like.

We also met some Relief Foundation Members, all Lao Wai (foreigners) except one Sabahan. But we thought he was a Lao Wai too cause he have afro and his skin is very tan. Almost like a lighter skin African. We were quite shock that he was very fluent in Bahasa Malaysia and came to understand we was actually a Sabahan. Why do I even mention him here? (he is quite handsome actually. lol!)

Sure the pictures are all gone now. But I can NOT erase those memories, sightings, and sceneries that I have capture in my mind. The Land I truly love^^

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